Green Fingered George

Teifi Marsh Nature Reserve by Becca Vincent

Teifi Marsh Nature Reserve by Becca Vincent

Green Fingered George adding a Bittern to the sightings list

Green Fingered George adding a Bittern to the sightings list

Last month The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales received an e-mail from an 11 year old boy who had written a piece on The Welsh Wildlife Centre and Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve in his blog.

We were so inspired by his passion for wildlife that we asked him to write us a bit about himself so that we could put it in our e-newsletter to hopefully inspire other young and budding wildlife champions. Here's what he had to say:

Hi my name’s George and I’m 11 and from Manchester. In June 2014 I won the RHS Young School Gardener of the Year Award and as that year came to an end I was asked to be the first ever RHS Young Ambassador! Lots of exciting things have happened so I decided to start a blog, where I could write about gardening, wildlife and the natural world.

People often ask how I became interested in gardening, nature, wildlife, why I love it so much and what is my inspiration. Well, my Mum and Dad have always taken me into the countryside, to nature reserves, gardens and to the coast for day trips or when we are on holiday. This is where I developed a love of nature and wildlife. Gardening brings me closer to nature, so that's how it started - I'm absolutely obsessed, I'm a nature nerd, a gardening geek!

Why I love the Welsh Wildlife Centre Teifi Marshes

That’s why I love going to Wales for my holidays, especially The Welsh Wildlife Centre at the Teifi Marshes, which we’ve visited every year for seven years! It is a lovely area, with a great balance of land, river and marshland. It’s awesome walking round the reserve and it’s always great to see the water buffalo return in spring to graze on the land. I was really angry when I visited last year as some vandals had burnt down one of the hides, so I donated a bit of pocket money to help fund the replacement; I checked it out in April and I think it’s great!

The reserve is a real family favourite; my Dad thinks it’s got the perfect combination of habitats, he really enjoys the stroll round and loves the view from the visitor’s centre looking out on to the Teifi. Whilst my Mum, well she’s a food snob and thinks the Glasshouse is her favourite café in the whole wide world.

My garden at home

We have a wildlife garden at home and we're always working on developing and improving areas. We have 3 raised beds, to grow our own vegetables and herbs. Me and my Dad are the growers, my mum the cook. We grow some fruit too, including raspberries, blackcurrants and strawberries – there’s just nothing better than picking the produce straight from the plant and eating it. I love the pond area that me and my Dad built; we’ve surrounded it with some of my favourite plants including a small acer tree. We’re extending the pond at the moment, which should encourage more wildlife into the garden

My love of wildlife

My favourite animal is a peregrine falcon – the fastest animal on the planet. It’s been my favourite animal for a long time and I’ve been lucky to see them in action a few times, including once when we saw one hunting by the coast – it was awesome as it swooped down and caught its prey!

Trying to think of my best animal encounter is a tough one to answer because I’ve seen some amazing things – finding a bat in my house, watching it recover, then fly into the night sky was epic. Rutting deer at Bushy Park was so cool. However, spotting the bittern at The Welsh Wildlife Centre this Easter was #OfficiallyAmazing; here’s the story….

A couple of months before our visit a bittern had been showing off to the public – there had been loads of video footage and photos on the centre’s Facebook page, but it hadn’t been seen for a while. The final bird hide on our walk was the Kingfisher hide and we spent about 10 minutes in there before my Mum asked me to come over to where she was sat. She said “George is that a bittern over there?” and there it was, the bittern, which had just walked out of the reeds, you could see its long thick neck and beak. I couldn’t believe it, the whole bird hide went crazy as keen birders got a fantastic view of this rare and elusive bird!!! When I returned to the visitor’s centre I felt so chuffed to be able to write ‘bittern’ on the wildlife board – what an honour! We were on an absolute high as we went for lunch in The Glasshouse Café and I’ve enjoyed telling the story to anybody who will listen since I’ve returned! What an amazing wildlife encounter and a big tick for the bittern – I remain smitten with the bittern!

We’ve always seen plenty of wildlife at The Welsh Wildlife Centre from bullfinches to butterflies, bees to buzzards. Whatever time of year there’s always beautiful flowers and plants to see too, like the time I was able to identify celandine, with its shiny bright yellow petals. After your walk you can eat in the shadow of a giant badger and spend your pocket money in the visitor centre shop! The reserve is perfect, I just wish it was on my doorstep!

You can visit my blog at greenfingeredgeorge.com